“I swear to Christ, Izzy. Why didn’t you warn me? I mean, I would’ve told you if you were going to date some crazy cocksucker.”

“I tried to warn you, but you reminded me that you’re a ‘big boy’.”

If she used air quotes one more time during this conversation I was going to put her in a headlock and mess up her hair until she screamed uncle.

“You told me to mind my own business. So… I thought I’d let you learn the hard way, big brother.” She couldn’t stop laughing.

I sighed. “Next time slap me, will you?”

“Gladly.” Her fingers tangled in my hair, ruffling it just the right way to make me cringe. “So tell me what happened and why is your phone going crazy without you bothering to look?”

“I don’t even know where to start. I ended shit with Tammy and she’s been blowing it up for twelve hours.”

“Why did you end it? Wait, were you guys really a thing?” She leaned over the desk and rested her chin in her hand.

“We weren’t anything but fuck buddies, or at least that’s what I thought. She, on the other hand, had our future planned out. She made a scrapbook, Izzy. A fucking scrapbook.” I slammed my fist down on the desk and started to laugh. “Shit would be funny if it happened to someone else, but she’s crazy.”

“A scrapbook of what?” Her eyebrows drew together.

“The cover was a wedding photo with our faces glued on the bride and groom. I flipped through the book. It was our entire life planned out and in living color. That shit just isn’t normal, Izzy.”

She doubled over in laughter, smashing her fist against the desk. “No, wait.” She couldn’t catch her breath as tears began to stream down her cheeks. “Did you at least take the scrapbook with you? I mean, I need to see this shit.”

“Fuck. I was so pissed I didn’t even think about grabbing it.” I rubbed my forehead, annoyed with myself for being such a dumbass. “She hasn’t stopped calling and texting me since last night.”

Hunched over gasping for breath, she held her hand out. “Give it to me.”

“What?”

“Gimme your phone, stunad.”

She tapped a few buttons with the tip of her tongue sticking out.

“What are you doing? Please don’t respond to her, Iz.”

She gave me a sour look before turning her attention back to her task.

I sighed, leaning back in my chair and waited.

“Here,” she said, placing it in front of me.

“What did you do?”

“You really need to learn more about your phone, Michael. I blocked her.” She rolled her eyes.

“You can really do that shit?” Stunned, I didn’t know it could be so easy.

I would’ve done it hours ago to avoid the barrage of bullshit.

Izzy just shook her head as she walked away.

Joe and Anthony walked in laughing. They said the usual ‘hey’ walking past me to put their stuff down and prep their areas for customers.

I checked over the schedule while I waited for everyone to finish. Anthony sat first and began to tap out a beat against the plastic chair. Leaning back, he put his head against the wall, and closed his eyes looking lost in the rhythm.

By the time Izzy and Joe made their way to the front of the shop I wanted to rip Anthony’ fingers off and shove them down his throat.

Izzy sat down next to Anthony, resting her head on his shoulder.

“Anything new since yesterday, Mike?” Joe asked, leaning against the desk. He cracked his neck with a quick push to his chin.

Izzy laughed as she whispered in Anthony’s ear. They looked at me and smiled.

“Totally booked. No room for walk-ins unless anyone wants to work extra.”

No one met my eyes.

“Didn’t think so.” I tapped the pen against the schedule and tried to avoid the looks from the two assholes against the wall.

Joe turned toward them. “What are you two giggling about over there?”

I waved my hands in the air and shook my head. I hoped Izzy would take pity on me. I knew the bullshit that was about to take place if she didn’t.

“Talking about the nuptials between Tammy and Mike.”

Fucking little sisters and their big mouths.

His head turned quickly in my direction. “What the fuck are they talking about?”

“They’re being jackasses.”

“You didn’t elope or anything stupid like that did you?” Joe asked.

“Fuck no! Give me an ounce of credit, will you please?”

We spent the next ten minutes laughing about Tammy and all the problems our dicks had caused through the years. It’s strictly a male issue.

I had to own that shit.

When my first customer arrived five minutes early, I wanted to kiss her feet for saving me from my siblings’ harassment.

Chapter 3

I groaned, burying my face in the pillow and tried to avoid facing the world. My body felt heavy and I didn’t want to get out of bed. Even after a full night’s sleep, I couldn’t shake my sadness from work last night and I figured why the hell not. It was worth a shot.

The only thing that usually helped my mood was a good ass-kicking workout at the gym.

When I walked in the gym and the man knocked me on my ass. The impact scared the hell out of me as I fell on my ass, dropping my purse, and spilling the contents everywhere.

He was the object of my anger. It wasn’t from being knocked down; looking back I was more mortified by it than pissed. I felt helpless over the lost lives that piled up during my shift. The night before had been one of the lowest in my short career, but when I looked up into his rich caramel eyes something inside me shifted.

My brain must have been rattled by the force of my fall.

I’ve seen him before. I knew it.

I lost my breath as I stared into his eyes. I’ve never had a reaction to someone like I had with him. Something unspoken passed between us as we looked into each other’s eyes.

It took everything in me to not react when he helped me off the ground. The moment our skin connected electricity passed between us. There was a snap, crackle, pop.

I couldn’t get him out of my damn mind as I started to run on the treadmill. As my thighs burned and sweat trickled down my chest, I thought about only him.

How did I know him?

Tall with broad shoulders, muscular tattooed covered arms and completely not my taste.

The track pants he wore hid his legs, but there was no doubt in my mind t


hat they were as solid and powerful as his upper half.

When our bodies were inches apart in the doorway, my heart pounded in my chest– if he were any closer he would’ve heard the frantic rhythm.

“Hey, Mia.” A voice pulled me out of haze.

Blinking, I looked over to see Rob leaning against the treadmill. “Oh. Hey, Rob.”

“You’re looking beautiful as always.” He stared at my chest as my body bounced.

“If you don’t stop staring at my chest, I’ll knock you on your ass,” I warned.

He snickered, covering his mouth with his hand but his eyes remained glued to my breasts. “Promises, promises. Why don’t you let me take you to dinner?”

“Rob, I’m sure you’re a nice guy.” I coughed.

He was the farthest thing from nice. He wasn’t an asshole, but he sure as hell wasn’t boyfriend material.

“We wouldn’t work. I’d spend too much time repairing the injuries I’d give you.”

A giant smile crept across his face before he finally looked at my eyes. “You say the sexiest shit, Mia.”

“Not happening. Who was that guy that left when I walked in?” Grabbing the towel, I blotted the sweat from my chest.

Moving his eyes to follow the path of the towel, he asked, “You mean Mike?”

“I don’t know his name. Tall, muscular, walked out right after you opened.”

Brawn didn’t equal brains when it came to Rob.

“Mike, yeah, he’s a friend of mine.” His eyes flickered between my breasts and eyes.

If they were friends then in all probability he was an asshole too. I had attracted more of those in my time than I wanted to admit.

“Tell me about him. I think I know him from somewhere.” I couldn’t help myself; I had to figure out how I knew him.

“He’s a fighter. He has a big fight coming up that I’m helping him train for.” Rob flexed and punched the air.

“Is that all he does?” Fighter – code word for unemployed and a workout junkie.

Rob shook his head and laughed, “Nah, he’s part owner in a tattoo shop. He’s a piercer there.”

A busty blond walked by and started to set up camp at a treadmill nearby. Rob’s eyes wandered in her direction as he licked his lips.

“Thanks. You can go now,” I said, wanting to be alone with my thoughts.

He put his hands over his heart and stammered backward as though he were in pain. “You just dismissed me like that? I’m wounded, Mia.”

“Maybe the girl over there,” I moved my head in her direction, “will have the remedy.”

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